The Daily Telegraph editorial comment today begins with a piece entitled 'McNulty typifies what's rotten in the House'. It concentrates on the fact that McNulty chose to live just outside his constituency and that his expenses were not incurred 'wholly,exclusively and necessarily'.
What the Telegraph seems to have missed is that, yet again, we have MPs passing judgement on their fellow MPs. Was this practice not supposed to cease? Perhaps the fairest and only practicable way in which MPs claims for expenses could be judged would be for the 'jury' to comprise members of the public, chosen from the electoral roll and changed every parliament?
It should be noted that (a) McNulty is a Labour MP and (b) the Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges contains 5 Labour MPs, 3 Conservative MPs, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 Plaid Cymru.
The Chairman, David Curry, changed the designation of his main home in 2005; Kevin Barron claims one of the highest mortgage interest payments on his second flat in London, which rose to more than £2,000 per month in 2007; Andrew Dismore designates a flat in Edgware, in his North London constituency, just 11.4 miles from Westminster, as his second home. He owns another flat five miles from Parliament. He does not claim mortgage interest or rent, but does claim £90 a month for Council Tax and £835 per annum in service charges; Nick Harvey had to be reminded twice by parliamentary officials to submit receipts. Since 2001 he has claimed a total of £143,658 for his house in London, including interest on his £340,000 mortgage, which was £1,258 per month in June 2008. He also claims £30 per month for his subscription to Sky Sports; Greg Knight claimed £2,600 to have his driveway repaired; Elfyn Llwyd's claims were straightforward, yet he claimed almost as much for food bills as for the mortgage interest on his designated second home in London; Chris Mullin, Labour MP for Sunderland is, in the general concept of 'naughty' MPs virtually a saint, in that he still owns a 30 year-old black and white television - although he still claims the licence fee from the taxpayer. He also claimed £1,290 for food and ACA of £2,845; Nicholas Soames - like Mullins, almost a saint - claimed up to £1,340 a month for mortgage interest; Paddy Tipping claimed mortgage interest of about £500 per month on a flat in London, upto £400 per month for food as well as council tax and utility bills; Alan Whitehead, like Mullins and Soames, a relatively modest claimant claimed £1,942.98 for a new boiler and £730 per month mortgage interest on his London flat.*
You, the reader, shall be judge and jury.
* All details quoted taken from the Daily Telegraph supplement 'The Complete Expenses Files'.